John Maniscalco's Reviews > Trotsky: Downfall Of A Revolutionary

Trotsky by Bertrand M. Patenaude
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M 50x66
's review
Oct 08, 2010

really liked it

This book is ostensibly an accounting of Leon Trotsky's final three years of exile in Mexico and his eventual assassination. In reality, this books provides quite a unique overview of Trotsky the man - his ideals, morals, and character. While unexpected, it was a pleasant surprise to read a more substantive study of the Russian Revolution's fallen idol rather than a mere tabloid retelling of Trotsky's love affairs and eventual murder.

Trotsky was a brilliant man, a man of ideas and of action. It is impossible to read his works and not be inspired. And yet, the man who led the Red Army to victory and secured the survival of the Soviet state could not lead a small political party. The absurd and endless factional debates about dialectical materialism and other semantics continued to split the already small Trotskyist movement. Though he stressed Marxist unity, Trotsky's rigidity betrayed any hope of his leading a mass movement or obtaining significant political allies. In short, he was a total failure as a politician.

As Stalin continued to undermine the ideals of the Russian Revolution, Trotsky never wavered in his faith in the Soviet Union as a true proletarian republic. While Trotsky's repudiation of the the Soviet Union would subsequently lead to the repudiation of his own life's work, his failure to see the obvious defects of communism affects his legacy. As the Soviet Union continued to destroy individual lives and violate the sovereignty of numerous countries, Trotsky always had a Marxist defense at hand with which to defend the USSR.

I am left with a profound sense of waste after reading this book. Trotsky's was a man of unique gifts, a blood-stirring writer with unwavering passion who possessed an intellect of the highest sort. But these talents were employed in the service of an ideology which brought only misery and hunger to the very people it claimed to liberate. Had Trotsky been drawn to the ideals of individual liberty and the weakening of state power, he could have made a fine contribution to political thought and civilization. Instead, his role in the Bolshevik Revolution rendered him a prisoner to the myth of the utopian communist future. And that not his assassination, is the tragedy of Leon Trotsky.

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